2 (1/4 ounce) packages dry yeast
4 cups flour, divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 cups water, between 120-130 degrees, divided
1/4-1/2 cup baking soda
5 cups water
coarse salt, as needed
1. In a large metal or a glass bowl, dump yeast, put about 1/4 cup flour, sugar, and pinch salt. Add 1 cup of the hot water, slowly; stir and maintain a lump-free liquid. Let rest for 5 minutes, until it starts creating its own bubblies.
2. Add the rest of the flour and salt, stirring all the while, adding the remaining 1 cup water, intermittently. After all the water has been added, the dough should end up in one kneadable ball; not too sticky to work with your hands, but not too floury to be too dense to stretch and knead. Grease the bowl, and add dough ball back in it. Let rise in a relatively warm environment.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put baking soda in 5 cups of water. The more baking soda, the more pretzely your rolls will taste. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch and knead down. Make 2-3" balls out of dough while bringing the baking soda water to a boil.
4. Let balls rise until water is boiling. Drop balls into baking soda water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Again, the more soda-exposure, the more pretzely the flavor of the rolls. Spoon out with rounded slotted spoon. Allow balls to sit for 1 minute, and then slice cross the top of balls. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
5. Bake for 25 or so minutes. They should be a deep brown color on the outside, and when you tap the top of them, they should sound hollow.
Serve with mustard and beer!