Originally Posted by GRBC
That would be an interesting experiment. Brew a SNPA type beer with 300ppm sulfate and compare it to one brewed with 100ppm sulfate which is then dosed to 300ppm total sulfate in the finished beer and compare the three.
I've never done a three way comparison- but I know from experience that I have a couple of SNPA/Mirror Pond type of beers where I like 125-150 ppm sulfate. In fact, I'm drinking one now. I made it with 275 ppm sulfate, and did NOT like it a bit (all other things remained roughly the same, including the mash pH).
I have a couple of IPAs that I love at 230-250 ppm of sulfate (again, other ions including chloride are low). But only a couple. I'm one of "those people" who prefers a lower level of sulfate in most beers.
I say that with quotes, as I know that someone I respect greatly as a fellow BJCP judge disagrees strongly with me, and usually prefers the higher sulfate level in the same beers. (mabrungard).
I respect him, his water knowledge, his contributions, and his palate greatly!
The thing is- since we're homebrewers we can cater to our own palate and that's what I generally do. I rarely enter competitions any more, and brew to my tastes, along with my own personal homebrew taste tester and life partner. He tends to like more hoppy ambers, with a softer bitterness profile, so he also loves the beers with enough sulfate to make the hops bitterness apparent, but never harsh or overdone. I brew what we love to drink, and in general for most IPAs and APAs, it is a less sulfate profile than the recommended 300 ppm, generally 125-150 ppm.