I just experienced something with a hoppy beer (Harpoon's Belgian Pale Ale
: it tastes way better *before* a meal than with food (I drink with food, and rarely without -low tolerance to alcohol)
I read a review on the beer, which pointed out that it was a good 'appetizer' beer... and indeed it does taste better on its own, without competing with spices, in my (short) experience
I never experienced that with other hoppy beers like 'medium strength' IPAs though.
What is at work here?