What makes a bar a "college bar?" Certainly, proximity to schools and large numbers of students can be a criteria. Close association with a particular school, a distinction enjoyed by the likes of Big Ten and Stub & Herb's with the U of M, also qualifies an establishment. The simplest, and I think most important criteria, however, has to be the crowd. Do large numbers of college students and recent grads patronize your favorite bar? If so, it's a college bar.
By this standard downtown Minneapolis's Brothers Bar & Grill is one of the city's most active and vibrant college bars. No covers, quality specials, and a good-size crowd of college-age patrons makes Brothers a relatively reliable downtown alternative to college bars near campuses. The downtown location also makes it one of the best places to meet people from schools other than your own.
Brothers is a fantastic events bar. Whether it's Halloween, St. Patty's, any other holiday, or one of Brothers own (such as their annual "King of the Wings" challenge), more often than not you can count on cheap drinks and lively crowds. With the opening of Target Field in the spring, a short walk from Brothers, you can be sure plenty of the younger, thirstier Twins fans will find their way in.
At times you'll notice Brothers take on a "clubbier" feel, when the music is louder, the dance floor busier, and the crowd "frat-ier." (For those more familiar with Dinkytown, think The Library on a Friday night). Generally this takes place on weekends, and to a lesser extent on Thursdays, so if this is more your style, check it out on a Friday or Saturday night. If you're more like me, and you prefer decent-but-reasonable crowds, quieter music, and not to feel overpowered by the competing scents of excessively-sprayed colognes and perfumes, stick to Wednesdays and Thursdays.