When applied to still alcoholic beverages, does the term 'flat' mean "lacking taste" or "lacking alcohol"? It can mean "not fizzy anymore" but only if the beverage is supposed to be so, like champagne. What if someone uses the word to describe, for example, beer which, as far as I'm concerned, is not considered an effervescent drink despite containing bubbles in it?


Beer is an effervescent drink because it contains bubbles in it. If the beer is flat, that means the bubbles have gone from it. Some people might describe a beer as flat, meaning that it has less bubbles they expect.

Americans often find English ales to be warm and flat. Certainly, a cask-conditioned ale is less "fizzy" than a keg lager, but it should never be flat and should always support a good head.

It would be unusual to describe a still wine (for example) as "flat". It could mean "bland", in a figurative way.

The 2016 vintage zinged with bright fruit flavours. By comparison the 2017 vintage is flat, lifeless and uninteresting: a great disappointment.

It couldn't mean "lacking alcohol" not least because modern production techniques mean that the alcohol level is completely controlled by the producer.

| improve this answer | |

A "flat" carbonated beverage (such as beer or soda) is one whose carbon dioxide content has decreased, due to being shaken, diluted by melted ice, sitting out too long, or any other reason. We don't normally describe non-carbonated beverages as "flat."

| improve this answer | |
  • The opposite of 'carbonated' is 'still'. I won't give references here: it is easy to look them up. – JeremyC Dec 28 '19 at 22:29
  • @JeremyC "Still" means the drink is deliberately prepared uncarbonated, while "flat" refers to a carbonated beverage which has lost some or all of its carbonation. – TypeIA Dec 28 '19 at 23:06
  • Yes. I know that. I was not disagreeing with you. But now I re-read the question, it becomes mysterious. It asks about the word 'flat' applied to 'still' beverages. I do not think that still beverages can be flat. If the OP could supply a reference in which that usage occurs we could possibly be helpful. – JeremyC Dec 28 '19 at 23:09
  • There's a difference in beer culture. English beer doesn't contain bubbles because it is cask-conditioned and is only carbonated naturally. Most US beer is filtered and pasteurised, which kills the yeast, preventing natural carbonation. It is then piped into sealed, pressurised 'kegs', chilled and artificially carbonated. Beer in the cask matures gently and becomes subtly carbonated. It may therefore seem flat to Americans who are used to their own type. – Old Brixtonian Dec 29 '19 at 0:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.