Beer -- it's a marvelous thirst quencher, and it does give the spirits a lift. It can also add flavor and zing to your cooking. Cooking with beer is not new. Many cooks around the world use it rather than wine because it gives such a rich flavor at such a small price.

Dishes that are based on cheese, such as rarebits, fondues and sauces, readily take to the addition of beer. It can be used as the liquid in fritter or coating batters, as it helps to break down the gluten and actually makes for a more tender coating. Use it in stews and ragouts, instead of wine or as part of the liquid you generally use -- for a tangy taste.

The following recipes are proof that the "sudsy brew" can be used in a variety of dishes with tasty results: TANGY CHEESE DIP

(8 to 12 servings) 1 egg white, stiffly beaten 1 pound swiss cheese, grated 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1 clove garlic, finely mashed 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce 1 cup beer

Beat egg white until stiff; add remaining ingredients -- except beer. Blend well. Add beer gradually while stirring until mixture has the consistency of whipped cream. Chill. Serve with chips, crackers. BEER SOUP

(6 servings) 4 cups beer Grated rind of 1 lemon 2 teaspoons sugar 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 2 tablespoons cold water 4 teaspoons cornstarch 4 egg yolks 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 to 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce Salt to taste

Pour the beer into a non-aluminum pot (glass, enamel, stainless steel). Add lemon rind, sugar, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and simmer slowly for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir the cold water into the cornstarch, then blend in the cornstarch paste, using a wire whisk. Return to heat for 5 minutes. Beat egg yolks in deep mixing bowl, slowly pour the beer mixture into the bowl, using wire whisk with brisk motions to prevent curdling. Return blended mixture to saucepan. Add lemon juice, worcestershire and salt and bring almost to a boil. Serve hot over pretzels or bread croutons, or use pretzels or croutons as an accompaniment. SHRIMP STEAMED IN BEER

(2 servings) 1 pound uncooked shrimp, cleaned and deveined 1 1/2 cups beer

Place uncooked shrimp, cleaned and deveined basket over heated beer. Cover and allow shrimp and beer to simmer until shrimp are pink (do not overcook). Drain and serve shrimp with favorite dip or sauce. BEEF AND BEER

(6 servings) 2 pounds top round, cubed Flour for dredging beef 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 large onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 stalks celery, chopped 1/2 teaspoon thyme 6 sprigs parsley 1/2 teaspoons peppercorns 1 bay leaf 6 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 2 parsnips, sliced (optional) 1 turnip, peeled and sliced (optional) 12 small white onions 1 pound mushrooms, sliced 4 cups beer 1 to 2 cans beef consomme

Dredge beef cubes in flour. Brown cubes on all sides in oil in a large heavy pot or dutch oven. Remove beef, set aside. Add onion, garlic and celery to remaining fat. Cook until lightly browned (about 15 minutes). Add thyme and mix. Tie parsley, peppercorns and bay leaf in double thickness of cheescloth. Return beef and juices to pan. Add herbs, vegetables and beer. Add consomme to just cover meat and vegetable; it may take 1 to 2 cans. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer slowly 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender. Correct seasoning.