Pooltime Ale, presented by Bell’s Brewery, boasts itself as a Belgian-inspired Wheat Ale with a touch of light clove notes. The key highlight is the incorporation of 100% Montmorency tart cherries sourced from Michigan’s Traverse City region. These cherries promise a subtle tartness, providing a vivid contrast to the beer’s fruity profile, making it an ideal companion for all summer escapades. Clocking in at 5.2% ABV, Pooltime Ale aims to be the quintessential summer beer.


My spontaneous grab of a 6-pack from a local grocery store in upstate New York led me to Bell’s Pooltime Ale. The packaging, adorned with summer poolside imagery and a cherry icon, sets the stage for what I hoped to be a bright and invigorating summer beer. However, the beer’s appearance, poured into a becher glass, left much to be desired. A murky concoction greeted me, resembling a Bloody Mary with its hazy, burnt orange to deep red hues. The large, lightly pink foam stuck around for a few minutes, but the overall visual appeal failed to match the anticipated vibrancy.


Contrary to expectations, the aroma of Pooltime Ale leans towards the sweeter side, featuring an artificial strawberry character that dominates the olfactory experience. Beyond this sweetness, there is a lack of complexity, with kids’ cherry juice box flavors overwhelming the senses. The promised tart cherry character is conspicuously absent, earning this beer a low score in the acidity department. The overall aromatic profile disappointingly reaches an 8/10 on the sweetness scale, leaving much to be desired.


Diving into the taste experience, Pooltime Ale disappoints with an overwhelming surge of sugary sweetness reminiscent of Oberon infused with sweet cherry juice. The anticipated tartness from the Montmorency cherries remains elusive, and the overall flavor balance is compromised. The absence of acidity, coupled with an ultra-thick and soupy mouthfeel dominated by wheat proteins, renders the tasting experience less than refreshing. The beer falls short of expectations, with its murky and sticky character contributing to an unappealing overall taste.


The mouthfeel of Pooltime Ale doesn’t do it any favors. Ultra-thick and soupy, the beer’s texture is dominated by an excess of wheat proteins, resulting in a heavy and cloying sensation on the palate. This, combined with the lack of acidity, adds to the overall disappointment. The beer fails to deliver the crisp and quenching qualities expected from a summer-inspired wheat ale.


Bell’s decision to create Pooltime Ale as a departure from its outstanding Berliner Weisse, Oarsman, proves to be a misstep. The choice to build a new beer around Oberon, accentuating sweetness with cherry additions, results in a brew that misses the mark for a refreshing summer offering. Murky, sticky, and lacking the promised tartness, Pooltime Ale falls short of the mark. Within Bell’s diverse lineup, superior options for poolside day drinking are found in Oarsman, Quinannan Falls, Lager of the Lakes, and even the standard Oberon.

In Closing: Pooltime Ale, with its ambitious blend of flavors, fails to deliver on the promise of a refreshing summer beer. Bell’s Brewery might have missed an opportunity to capitalize on the success of its Berliner Weisse, Oarsman, by opting for a sweet cherry-infused version that falls flat. In the crowded market of summer ales, Pooltime struggles to stand out with its murky, overly sweet profile. For those seeking a satisfying poolside experience, other offerings from Bell’s lineup prove to be more compelling choices.