- Warm water (about 110 degrees)
- 2 (1/4-ounce) packages rapid-rise yeast
- 3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar, divided
- 6 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
- 4 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup pale ale-style beer
- Pretzel salt
- Toppings: poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cheddar cheese, and Gruyere cheese
In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups warm water, yeast, and 1/2 cup brown sugar; let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together flour and coarse salt using your hands. Add butter and continue to mix with your hands until mixture is crumbly. Add yeast mixture and, using your hands, mix until a shaggy dough is formed and water is absorbed.
Using the dough hook attachment, mix dough on medium speed until dough is tight, elastic, and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator; let chill at least 8 hours and up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Roll dough out into a 14-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut dough into one dozen 12-inch-long strips, each about 1-inch wide.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out each piece into a 30- to 33-inch-long rope (about 3/4-inch thick), starting from the center and working toward the ends. Make a “U” shape with the rope and cross the ends over, pinching at the bottom of the “U” to form a pretzel. Return to baking sheet and repeat process with remaining dough.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick cooking spray. In a large saucepan, combine 8 cups water, baking soda, beer, and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer pretzels, one at a time, about 30 seconds, holding them under the surface of the water, if necessary, using a spider or slotted spatula. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and repeat process with remaining pretzels.
Sprinkle pretzels with pretzel salt and desired toppings; transfer to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Rotate baking sheet, and bake until deep brown, 4 to 6 minutes more. Remove from baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm with butter or mustard.