I probably should have started this discussion by adding the mineral profile of my tap water, as measured by Ward Lab:
water pH: 7.1
My water is low in all these ions/minerals. If I brew with the water as is, my beers taste good, but they tend to be on the maltier side, lack hop forwardness, and are not particularly crisp. Over the years I'd brew pale ales and IPA, gradually increasing the sulfates, and I always added a bit of Calcium Chloride, just because I thought "I should" no particular reason other then one of these old "homebrewing hangups" So in nearly all of my previous beers, my chloride levels have been increased to at least 50 ppm, regardless of what the sulfates have been. So then I started to bump the sulfates, batch after batch, after batch. Beers got crisper, hops started to sing a bit louder, and at one point I thought I had hit a nice balance where sulfates where 175 -200, and chloride was 50.
So after nearly 100 batches of pale ale / IPA over the years, I finally started to conclude that the more sulfates I added, the better the beer seemed to turn out, so these last 2 batches of IPA that I brewed back to back, I decided to push the beers to 250 ppm Sulfate, but this time, and this time only DID NOT ADD ANY CALCIUM CHLORIDE, so while Sulfates in these beers are now @ 250 ppm, my Chloride levels are still at my "stock" tap water level of 12 ppm. Obviously, this is a big change in the ratio of sulfates to chloride, and it's the thing that's got me thinking could be the problem with these beers. I'm hitting all my gravities, temps, rest times, boil-off volume, sanitation, pitching rate, fermentation temps, o2 - I feel very confident with my process and have a track record with these recipes because I've brewed them both before many times, they only variable that has changed as far as I know, is that I completely stopped adding Calcium Chloride, and cranked the sulfates to a level higher then I have ever done.
So that's what I'm asking - I probably should have titled this post something else - "assuming your tap water is generally low in all ions/minerals, what is largest ratio between Chloride and Sulfate you can go before things start to taste bad" Obviously, you can have loads of sulfates in beer and it will be delicious, but my latest thought is that if chloride is not present at some minimum level, then something isn't right. Maybe it's a ratio, maybe not. Wish there was a way to quantify it, and if anyone knows, please let me know.