Come October, the beer that was brewed in March is ready to drink and Germans gather to drown their weltschmerz, or world-weariness, in gallons of gemuetlichkeit, or joviality. If you can't make it to Munich or Nuremburg, where Germany's biggest Oktoberfests are held, here's what three local German restaurants are offering in the way of beer, cheer and food. HEIDELBERG, 100 King Street, Alexandria. 549-8440. Open daily 11:30 to 2. Oktoberfest at the Heidelberg, which used to be in Lorton and is now in an attractive old building in Old Town, ends October 10. But, since the restaurant's Oktoberfest effort consists of some half- hearted blue-and-white crepe paper decorations and some accordion numbers by a midget named Sammy, it probably doesn't matter if you miss the deadline. After October 10, the food -- hearty and good except for a terrible house salad -- and the large selection of German beers will still be there and you won't have to pay a cover charge of $1 for Sammy. We found the sauerbraten ($7.95) bland, but liked the Nurnberger Bratwurst with potato salad ($6.25), the potato soup and the potato pancakes served with sour cream and applesauce. German beer came in bottles ($2.10), on draft ($1.10 to $2.50) or in four-liter cans with pumps ($16). Desserts ran the gamut from apple strudel to Black Forest cake. Sammy, who wears lederhosen, came to our table once, filled our request for "Du, Du Liebst Mir im Herzen" (which is probably like asking an islands group if they know "Yellow Bird") and amiably make some balloon animals for our children. The rest of the time there was canned music and very little gemuetlichkeit. OLD EUROPE, 2434 Wisconsin Avenue NW. 333-7600. Open daily 11:30 to 11. This venerable old Washington restaurant boasts "the same Famous Draft Beer served at the Oktoberfest in Munich, imported and ours exclusively in Washington." The beer, Dortmunder Bock at $1.60 a glass, and some traditional Obtoberfest dishes such as Spanferkl or roast suckling pig ($9.45) and the same kind of grilled chicken or Backhandel that is served in the big beer tent in Munich, are the Old Europe's Oktoberfest offerings, available through the month. You can also order from the extensive standard menu, which includes many veal, venison and wurst dishes and from the list of more than a hundred German wines. Although none of the crispy skin that's the best part of suckling pig came with our portions, the food was good and the service excellent. An excellent pianist played German songs, but the ambience was heavy and staid, definitely not gemuetlich. One wouldn't dare sing along or even sway to the music for fear of raising the eyebrows of the other diners. ALPENHOF GERMAN-AUSTRIAN RESTAURANT, 1243 20th Street NW. 223-3794. Open daily 11:30 to 11. At the Alpenhof, our search for Oktoberfest gemuetlichkeit was rewarded and the food was good, too. Blue-and-white Obtoberfest decorations hung from the rafters and the dining balcony, and a roast suckling pig sat ceremonially in front of the fireplace. A blond German woman played the accordion and sang everything from thoaty, Marlene Deitrich-type torch songs to polkas. The singer, named Renata, rarely took a break, and when she did she chatted with the customers, many of whom seemed to be old friends. She definitely enhanced the festive ambience. Aside from the "Oktoberfest beer," available throughout the month, there are no Octoberfest additions to the menu. The roast suckling pig ($10.95), served with excellent braised cabbage and a bread dumpling, did come with skin, which, unfortunately was mor Cresaptown. Through this Sunday, there's an all-you-can-eat Octoberfest buffet consisting of everything on the restaurant's extensive menu, from schnitzel to sauerbraten to strudel. Cost is $7.95 per person and, understandably, there are often long lines. The restaurant is open Friday and Saturday until 11:30 and Sunday from noon to 8. Here's what else is around this weekend: OCTOBER 10, 7:30 to 11 at the Gaithersburg Community Center, 810 South Frederick Avenue. 840-1862. Admission price of $7 in advance or $9 at the door includes a German sausage dinner and entertainment. OCTOBER 10, Taylor Learning Center, Whitegrounds Road, Boyds, Maryland. 423-0047 or 972-3452. Roasted pig and entertainment.