Preheat the oven to 450°F, even though we are resting the dough, go ahead and heat the oven so it is hot and ready when we go to bake.
In the body of a stand mixer or in a large bowl add the warm beer or water, sprinkle the yeast on top, and stir it a few times with a spoon. Let it sit for 5 minutes until it starts to bubble and become foamy. If the mixture does not bubble or become foamy, your yeast is bad, and you need to try again with fresh yeast.
Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl.
If using a stand mixer, using the hook attachment and stir the mixture slowly, once a dough starts to form, scrape down the sides and turn the speed on medium-high and start to knead the dough for 2 minutes.
The dough will "clean" the sides of the bowl but the bottom may still stick which is okay. If the sides do not "clean", add 1 tablespoon more of flour at a time until it does. Same if not using a stand mixer, stir the ingredients with a spoon until a dough starts to form. Knead the dough with your hands in the bowl for 5 minutes until a smooth dough forms, the dough may be a little sticky and that’s okay.
Lightly spray a medium-sized bowl with cooking spray and add the dough to the bowl and roll it around so it’s coated in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes.
In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the water and baking soda until the baking soda has dissolved, if it all doesn’t dissolve that is okay, set aside. Cover two large sheet trays with parchment paper set aside.
Place the dough on a clean work surface and divide it into 6 sections.
You may need to very very lightly flour your work surface if the dough starts to stick, but roll out one section at a time into a long rope about 30 inches long.
Make a U shape with the bottom of the U facing you.
Criss-cross the rope twice and fold it over itself to make a pretzel shape, secure the ends of the pretzels by pressing the ends into the bottom of the U shape so it sticks together.
Very gently place the pretzel into the baking soda water, it will not completely keep its shape, don’t worry.
Place the pretzel onto the lined baking sheet and maneuver the pretzel into whatever shape you want. Repeat with the remaining dough, place the pretzels about 2 inches apart on the sheet tray.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until dark golden brown.
Immediately brush with the butter. Then sprinkle with pretzel salt.
To make your sauce in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and whisk into combined. Cook for 30 seconds.
Whisking constantly, very slowly add the milk so no lumps form. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, once it starts to very slightly bubble and thickens, take it off the heat.
Stir in the cheese until melted, use immediately.
These can be made into 12 smaller pretzels, cooking time will vary.
The cheese sauce is optional but highly recommended.
These can be frozen, see my tips above.
If you cannot find pretzel salt, substitute with coarse salt.
Do not skip the water bath if helps with the authentic flavor and texture.