1Preheat oven with baking, bread or pizza stone to 500 degrees.
2Stir together barley malt syrup and yeast into 1 1/2 cups warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let sit until top is foamy [about 10 minutes].
3Add butter, flour and salt and mix until dough forms. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic [about 8 minutes].
4Separate dough into 4 equal parts. Working with one quarter at a time, roll dough into a 20" by 1" rope. On a piece of parchment paper, shape into the traditional "pretzel shape" [see photo]. Repeat with remaining three pieces and let rest for 20 minutes.
5Bring baking soda to a simmer in 1 cup of water in saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until baking soda is dissolved. Generously brush each pretzel with the mixture. Sprinkle with coarse pretzel salt.
6Using a sharp paring knife, make a 4 to 5 inch slash along the bottom of the pretzel [see photo].
7Using the parchment paper, carefully transfer two of the pretzels to the baking stone and bake until a rich, dark brown [about 12 to 15 minutes]. Repeat with remaining two pretzels.
8Let the pretzels cool for 8 to 10 minutes, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with more salt [if desired] and serve with beer, coarse-grain mustard or cheese. Enjoy!