2 tablespoons Kosher or flaked sea salt for sprinkling
To make your fake lye bath: Line a small baking sheet with foil and spread the 1/3 cup baking soda on it. Bake in a 250ºF oven for one hour while you make the pretzel dough.
In a large mixing bowl (hopefully a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment) combine the warm water, sugar and yeast. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
Add the beer, butter, and flour and begin mixing. After a minute or so, add a little more beer or water if needed to bring the dough together into a ball, or a little more flour if the dough is very wet.
Add the salt.
Knead on low speed for 5-7 minutes until a firm, elastic dough is formed.
Rub a little butter all over the dough ball, place back into the bowl, and cover with a damp cloth. Set aside for 30 minutes (or refrigerate covered in plastic wrap overnight).
Cut the ball into 8 portions.
On a clean, dry surface, roll each into a tapered snake, 24-28″ long. The center “belly” of the snake should be about 50% fatter than the ends. Don’t flour the surface. You need some friction for the dough to roll properly. In fact, if it refuses to “grip” the surface, dampen your hands with water and then continue rolling out.
Bring the ends of the snake up, twist them once, then lay them down onto the “belly” to make a pretzel shape.
Place on a greased parchment paper sheet.
Now in a wide, deep pan combine the baked baking soda and water to dissolve. Add the baking soda a little at a time to prevent it from clumping up.
One by one, carefully transfer the pretzels into the water bath, turning once. Each side of the pretzel should be in the water for 10 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and lay on a baking sheet lined with greased parchment an inch apart. You will need two trays or bake in two batches.
Sprinkle with Kosher or sea salt while still wet.
Allow to rise 30 minutes while your oven heats to 475ºF. Arrange your oven racks to the middle and upper third.
Bake 8-12 minutes until dark brown, rotating pans halfway through.
If using lye: Wearing rubber gloves, add 2 tablespoons lye to 2 quarts lukewarm water and stir to dissolve