WHAT a difference five years makes.

When he set up Brass Castle Brewery in 2011, Phil Saltonstall said it was too small to be called even a microbrewery, and instead labelled it a nano-brewery.

Today, buoyed by incredible success, he is about to launch a transatlantic venture that could help drive the beer revolutions on two continents.

Phil is leaving Malton and moving to Boston, retaining overall control of Brass Castle but relinquishing the day-to-day hands-on duties. At the same time, he is to set up a new beer import-export business that will see English cask ales shipped across the Atlantic to New England, and rare or pioneering American cask beers brought to Yorkshire by return.

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Phil Saltonstall plans to ship cask ales between the UK and US

It's exciting times, not only for Phil but for his wife Harriet. Their move is driven by her appointment as UK Consul-General to Boston. She will start the role in August, overseeing Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

For Phil, the move marks not so much a homecoming but the recreation of an earlier voyage that some of his possible ancestors made. Sir Richard Saltonstall led a group of English settlers to Massachusetts in 1630 and Saltonstall is now a well-known family name over there, with the Saltonstall Building also making up part of Boston's city government district.

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Brass Castle Brewery in Malton

New England is also where the brewery adventure began for Phil and Harriet. They are from Beverley here in Yorkshire but were working at the United Nations in New York several years ago, when Phil began helping out at a brewery in Princeton and started learning the skills that have stood him in such good stead.

Brass Castle began in the garage and cellar of Phil and Harriet's house in Pocklington, the brewery taking its name from Brass Castle Hill, the small stretch of Market Street where they lived.

>> Read our 2011 feature on the brewery's launch

Beers were later brewed on the charming Victorian kit on Lord Halifax's Garrowby Estate, and then, in late 2013, having resigned from his other job as a Coastguard, Phil moved the whole operation to a larger site in Yorkersgate in Malton, from where it has thrived.

The early beers such as Cliffhanger and Bad Kitty have held enduring popularity, but there has also been a wide range of varied, innovative brews. Burnout is a fantastic smoked porter, Wallop a remarkable strong ale brewed in port, sherry and whisky casks.

Sunshine is a punchy IPA, and the collaborations with North Riding have been spectacular (Life's A Beach last summer, and Christmas Kitty every winter). The list goes on.

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FLASHBACK: The Garrowby brew-kit

Awards have become commonplace, acclaim widespread, and the business has expanded, so much so that a small note inside the brewery declares the firm to be ("probably") the biggest tax-payer in Malton.

Now, things are moving on again.

"The commute from Malton to Massachusetts is daunting, but this offers a great opportunity to re-engage with some of the fantastic beers and breweries in New England," says Phil.

"I’m hoping to begin importing highly-rated beers from smaller US breweries that we do not currently get to enjoy in the UK, and I’m particularly excited about the possibility of using my cask beer expertise to bring more American cask beers to our shores.

"North America leads the way in world brewing at the moment, so it’s a fantastic touchstone for the best in beer and upcoming trends in beer. Re-connecting Brass Castle to the area of the world that helped to inspire its creation is an exciting development for the brewery."

Phil obviously plans to ship Brass Castle beers to the States, but expects to take a range of beers from other breweries as well, inevitably from Yorkshire but potentially elsewhere in the country too.

He says he has to try to get his head around the American market when he arrives, identifying what publicans and drinkers there want and where the gaps in the market are, and that will shape what goes into each shipment. The voyage from the UK to US should take around a fortnight, with the beers in cold storage so it's little different to them being in a warehouse, he says.

As for what we can expect in return? "The niche I am angling for is to the ability to take cask beer in both directions. There are a lot of pubs in the vicinity of Boston, but a lot will depend on me proving a hunch - namely that the British public will be receptive to American cask beer."

As Phil moves on from Malton, new faces are arriving.

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Phil Saltonstall (right) with staff Ben Voke (left) and Marko Karjalainen.

Ben Voke has been appointed in the office to head up distribution, while Marko Karjalainen has arrived as brewer.

"Marko hails from Finland originally, but learnt his trade on the Herriot-Watt brewing and distilling degree course in Edinburgh," says Phil. "He represents a significant upgrade in the brewhouse's all-round beer making knowledge - and is likely to be behind a number of interesting ales in the near future."

"We have grown in ways we did not really expect," says Phil. "We have garnered more praise and awards than we are rightly due for the size we are, and we are producing more type of beer than I thought we would. We have a team of seven now, which is great - we have become a proper little business."