Any insight is really appreciated as I'm quite confused. There was plenty of bubbling and fermentation appeared fine but when i opened the lid it came out very dark and flat. I know carbonation might get better after a few weeks in the bottles but I'm worried why it came out so pale. I have tasted one and it seems fine, just like a dark lager which is a shame.
There's two issues at play here, the first is carbonation, the second is colour.
Beer always tends to look a bit darker in the fermenter, simply because there's so much of it compared to a glass. Even light coloured batches can seem overly-dark while still fermenting. Obviously here it's quite dark in the glass too.
You don't specify how you made this beer. So speaking generally: Extra colour comes from maillard reactions during the boil. If you boil for longer, this definitely occurs. One common mistake for new extract brewers is to not correctly mix-up the malt added to water before boiling, so there's a big pool of malt on the bottom of the pot. This can brown and scorch.
If this is an all-grain batch - was the batch put through the mill before yours a dark beer? Maybe it's a little extra dark malt getting into your grist by mistake?
Carbonation problems can come from a range of minor issues, here's some of the more common ones:
- Did you add enough priming sugar?
- Were the bottles left long enough for the carbonation to occur?
- Were the bottles warm enough while carbonating for the yeast to work? (> 16C)
- If you
bulk primed, was the sugar/dextrose/... evenly mixed through the beer?
- Did you wait long enough for the yeast to work before opening?
- Was the cap on correctly?
The higher gravity the beer, generally carbonation takes longer, because the yeast has a tough time with the extra ethanol. If it's cold, the yeast works more slowly.
Do any of these sound like what might have happened?