Monday, September 17, 2018

Yep, That's A Packer Bar in Jacksonville: Blackfinn Ameripub

Like other Packer-Backers who don't live in Wisconsin, I look for a decent bar when the games are on but not on my TV. I'd rather spend my time with other Packers fans than watching the Atlanta game here in Jacksonville, so I decided to finally venture out to what I understood to be the best Packer bar in town: Blackfinn Ameripub at St. Johns Town Center. This was the real deal, at least compared to what I had to deal with in Kansas City (my previous out-of-TV-area residence).


Let's start with the bad. This is in the St. Johns Town Center, or the last place in Jacksonville I'd normally want to be on a weekend. Give yourself an extra ten minutes to navigate the Town Center traffic. Lots of shopping moms driving aimlessly around make it a headache. Since I didn't leave until the Packers scored in the Minnesota game, the parking lot was already full. Many of the cars had Packers flags, and I even saw a Packers spare tire cover. This is somewhat ironic, since most Packer fans have a spare tire cover known as a Packers jersey. As I walked to the bar (from a very remote parking spot), I also saw a Packer fan leaving (not sure why), so I knew this was the place to be.


The main bar at Blackfinn was completely full of Packer fans. That was some BS, but it was my own fault for not knowing the local game would be Atlanta and for waiting until the Packers took the lead. I ended up in the overflow bar with one barstool, which had been commandeered by a Packer fan from Illinois who was in town teaching at a diving school. Deep sea diving, not competitive. He also had a 60-ounce "pitcher" with a spigot on the bottom. He told me the bartender had to get permission to let him order the pitcher because it's really meant for groups. This led me to believe the bar has not been a Packer bar for all that long, or at least the barkeep was new. When a Packer fan orders a pitcher for himself, that's what he wants.

The staff had also offered the outdoor seating area when I was told the one bar was really full, but if I want to watch a Packer game in 90-degree weather, I'll go see them play at the Bank, or Tampa, or Miami. The problem with being in the extra bar was that I only got to hear all the yelling and booing from the other side, though there were several other Packer fans who eventually populated the booths on our side of the establishment. Two of the four televisions on our side were tuned to the Packers game, while the other three were showing Pittsburgh, and there were some Steeler fans huddled in a corner of the room. Since I didn't sit at a booth to order bar food, I ended up standing at the bar, as if I was at some UW-Madison bar pre-game. 

I ordered a smattering of local beers I had yet to try. Not too bad. What was bad was my neighbor's Miller Lite pitcher when he offered me some at the end of the game, since he'd been nursing the thing for three hours. My recommendation there is that you don't order the giant pitcher if you're not going to drink it down by halftime. But if you are going to drink it by halftime, you're probably going to get into a bar fight. When I started dismissing AJ Hawk as a shitty player, and my neighbor disagreed, it could have gotten ugly, especially if my neighbor at the bar had been AJ Hawk, which wouldn't surprise me at this legit Packer bar. On a lighter note, my diver friend taught me how to drink booze while SCUBA diving (it's all about pressure).

The next time the Packers play an early game that's not on my TV, I'll be heading to Blackfinn. While the PackersEverywhere website suggests there might be a Packer bar down by the beaches, this one is for real in its own right, so I will probably just deal with the Town Center and see my team play. I had invited my daughter to come to the game, but she was a little apprehensive about hanging out at a bar at her age (6th grade) which means we've lived away from Wisconsin for too long. It's not like I'd order her more than one beer or make her drive me home, though I have read stories about that from time to time in WI.

If you're a Packer fan who has moved to the area or a lady looking for a man who will ignore you on Sundays, then this is a good place to be for the game. Sure, some shady Patriots fans came in toward the start of the Jags-Pats game, but I'm not sure they crawl out from under their hiding places too often, and we can handle a few Steelers fans. Just watch your purses. I saw that Blackfinn has a location in Brookfield, WI, though I am not sure that plays any role in its becoming an established Packer bar in Jacksonville. If you know of a better place, send me an email. But until then, I'll venture out to Blackfinn every so often to meet like-minded people for a few drinks. I might be wearing my Reggie White jersey if I really start to get into the whole fan thing.

Also, Packer fans. I am a transplanted Wisconsinite living the life down here in Jacksonville. I am a web designer, writer, and all-around good guy who could use any business you might send my way. Check out some of my writing on Satisfamily. I've also written some satire on Real Wisconsin News. I build websites with Luthernet, Brave New Church, and Passive Ninja. I also help my fellow Wisconsinite sell Chromebook covers at Educabana.