The influence of the physicochemical properties of biomaterials on microbial cell adhesion is well known, with the extent of adhesion depending on hydrophobicity, surface charge, specific functional groups and acid–base properties. Regarding yeasts, the effect of cell surfaces is often overlooked, despite the fact that generalisations may not be made between closely related strains. The current investigation compared adhesion of three industrially relevant strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (M-type, NCYC 1681 and ALY, strains used in production of Scotch whisky, ale and lager, respectively) to the biomaterial hydroxylapatite (HAP). Adhesion of the whisky yeast was greatest, followed by the ale strain, while adhesion of the lager strain was approximately 10-times less. According to microbial adhesion to solvents (MATS) analysis, the ale strain was hydrophobic while the whisky and lager strains were moderately hydrophilic. This contrasted with analyses of water contact angles where all strains were characterised as hydrophilic. All yeast strains were electron donating, with low electron accepting potential, as indicated by both surface energy and MATS analysis. Overall, there was a linear correlation between adhesion to HAP and the overall surface free energy of the yeasts. This is the first time that the relationship between yeast cell surface energy and adherence to a biomaterial has been described.