They take 22 seconds to make (see video; it must be true), and they're a near-perfect pairing with every single beer style. Plus, they're fun. You gotta'!
We can't overemphasize the importance of having #freshtastycraftbeer to hand while you make and ingest these.
Put all this in a bowl of a food processor*:
3/4 C warm water
1 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t yeast
1 T melted butter
2.5 C flour
Whip it around for about 2-4 minutes until it forms a dough ball and gets kind of smooth. When you touch or pinch some off if it's sticky/icky (or if it's not, but if you prefer a more dense pretzel rather than a puffy one), add some more flour. If it's holding together well, you're good to go.
*If you don't have a food processor, you're going to need more beer. After you drink some more of it, mix all that stuff listed above up and start kneading it and keep going until it forms a smooth, silky ball of dough. This will take more like 10+ minutes.* We are not fans of straws in beer but you might need one during this period.
Put a little oil in the bottom of a bowl, put the dough ball in that, turn it over so the oil side is up and now there's a little oil all over it. (That'll keep it from getting crusty and crack-y while the yeast does its thing. Obligatory pause here to ruminate about the amazing power of yeast.) Cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel (or clean tshirt, or whatever). Let it sit somewhere hopefully warm -- or at least not cold -- for 30 mins. Or an hour if you get all into drinking Helleses and Festbiers and Märzens.
When you're ready, heat your oven or grill to 400°. (If you have a pizza stone for the grill, great -- otherwise, use a baking sheet that'll fit in the grill and allow the top to close).
Have everyone you've been drinking #freshtastycraftbeers with pull off a hunk of dough and shape it into whatever shape they like (see examples below from our team dinner in August for inspiration). This part is pretty fun and possibly therapeutic [I am not a doctor, but...]. The more distinctive theirs is, the more likely it'll come back to the right person once it's out of the oven or grill.
Dunk each pretzel into a bath made of:
2 C hot water mixed with
1/4 C baking soda
And then put it on a greased baking sheet (or slap it straight on the pizza stone) and sprinkle it with whatever the heck you like. [Recommended: crumbled dried hops. But salt also is tasty. Or cinnamon sugar. And etc.] Then put that sheet in the oven (if you've put it on a stone in the grill, close the lid).
Bake 4-7 minutes depending on how thick your pretzel shapes are.
Eat immediately, if not sooner. Put whatever you want on it -- mustard, sauerkraut, cheese dip, whatnot.
- We have discovered if you put a couple of tablespoons of nonfat plain yogurt in to pretzel dough before you turn the food processor on, it makes for a more-awesome pretzel, IOOs. This was inspired by adventures with some Indian naan bread making.
- We bear no ill-will to anyone who doesn't want to make your own. You want a bag of store-bought pretzels with great German-style beer, you go for it.
If you have a better/more favorite pretzel recipe, please send it our way. We will try it. Because we firmly believe in the power of water, yeast, and grain. And hops.