Alton Brown's tried and true pretzel recipe -- always a biërgarten crowd pleaser!
Mix 4.5 c flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, 1.5 c warm (110-115 F) h2o. Sprinkle 1 packet yeast on top. Let 'em jam together for 5 min.
Stir it up with 2 oz melted butter, ~4-4.5 c sifted flour. Knead 4-5 min until dough is supple (that is literally the first word that came to mind the first time I used this recipe, and it's true every darned time) and peels away from bowl easily. Clean bowl and coat lightly with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a cloth. Give that dough some alone time in a warm space for ~1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450. Oil a cookie sheet or two. Add 2/3 c baking soda to a pot of 10 c water. Begin to boil the water while forming pretzels.
Divide dough into 10-15 pieces. Roll each into a rope. Form each rope into a long U, twist once (the twist point should be closer to the ends that the curved part of the U). Fold the top of the curve down so that it rests between the two ends of the U, forming that iconic pretzel shape.
Slide pretzels (~4 at a time depending on the size of your pot) into that baking soda-y bath and let soak for 30 sec. Remove pretzels with a slotted spatula and arrange on baking sheet.
Brush pretzels with egg yolk and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake 12-14 min (turning sheet halfway through). Let cool before devouring, preferably with mustard or beer cheese.