Aged gouda is a fine example of a hard cheese, defined as one with a texture ranging from elastic at room temperature to hard enough to grate, according to the American Cheese Society. A Dutch specialty, gouda has a sharp, sweet, nutty flavor that increases with age.
The American Cheese Society categorizes many familiar cheeses as "hard," or "firm." In addition to aged gouda, the list of hard cheeses includes most cheddars, dry jack, Swiss, gruyere and parmesan styles. Depending on the variety and the artisan or manufacturer, hard cheese may consist of raw or pasteurized milk with flavors ranging from mild to sharp.