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I recently brewed a second batch of Christmas ale, which was spiced with cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg. I put a bottle in the fridge last night and tried it, but only a small amount of spice came through in smell/taste. Then I decided to open a bottle that hadn't been chilled, and the spice character was much more present, especially the cinnamon and clove.

Why does chilling reduce the perceptibility of the spice? It is something chemically related to the beer, or just natural human perception? In any case, it was still enjoyable at room temperature.

  • How cold is your fridge? Manny beers need to warm up to e.g., 10C before you can fully taste them. – Robert Jan 13 at 2:34
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It's a combination of human perception and physical science. Volatile compounds are less volatile at cold temperatures (physical chemistry), and the human nervous system is dulled or numbed slightly at colder temperatures (human).

This is the same reason why the Brits like to drink their beer "warm" (not ice cold = more flavor), and why the mega brewers like Bud/Miller/Coors want you to drink their beers cold as ice (less perception of any off-flavors).

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