WHAT do Dame Kelly Holmes, Daley Thompson and York Brewery all have in common? They are all double gold medal winners!

The Toft Green-based brewery's Centurion's Ghost Ale was crowned the Best Strong Bitter for the second year running, at the Great British Beer Festival at London's Earls Court this week.

The warming, dark ale saw off competition from across the country to win gold in a contest judged by Britain's leading beer experts.

"It was fantastic to win at last year's festival, but this double triumph is something else," said Andrew Whalley, York Brewery's director of brewing.

"Centurion's Ghost is a quality beer, and a little bit different with a lovely roasted malt flavour. The judges have got great taste."

As well as winning a second gold, the bitter was named champion in the Brewing Industry International Awards 2002.

Brewery managing director Tony Thomson said: "When I launched York Brewery 11 years ago, I wanted to make the best beer around. This second gold shows we've done just that. Make mine a double!"

A mixture of English-grown Challenger and Bramling Cross hops combined with roasted barley, gives the beer its distinctive nutty flavour.

Centurion's Ghost Ale is named after the legendary sighting of the ghosts of a Roman legion in the cellar at Treasurer's House in York.

The Great British Beer Festival, organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), is the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 700 different kinds of real ale, cider, and foreign beers on offer. It finishes today.

Established in 1996 within the city walls, York Brewery is both a working brewery and a tourist attraction, providing customers locally and around the country with the first traditionally-brewed ales from within the walls of York for over 40 years.

The brewery consists of a 20-barrel brew plant, five 20 barrel fermenters and ten conditioning tanks.