Originally Posted by HotbreakHotel
My experience and opinion is also that for a malty beer keep sulfates very low but have a good level of chloride and maybe some sodium.
For me the opposite is true for hoppy beers -- I like high sulfates but also a good level of chloride (but no sodium) to balance.
Exactly! The ratio is nice, but it is relative. The whole thing falls apart if the concentrations of sulfate or chloride get too high. There are too many brewing water calculators that fail to caution against adding too much of either ion when pursuing a desired sulfate/chloride ratio. Trying to achieve a certain ratio without keeping an eye on the total levels for chloride and sulfate can produce very undesirable taste consequences.
My recommendation is that chloride should almost always be kept below 100 ppm. I don't know where some sources came up with a limit of 250 ppm for chloride, but that is far too high and WILL produce poor flavor.
By the way, I prefer quoting the ratio as sulfate/chloride instead of the other way since it produces a number that is more likely to be non-fractional. Colin Kaminsky pointed this out a few months ago.