I've recently built a hop spider and am having great results. Could it also serve in the same capacity to steep specialty grains. Paint strainers are a bit more expensive than muslin bags, but are reusable. Also there's no need to tie the bag to anything when using the spider. Cost savings isn't a primary concern, but I would like to understand if I might have another option than always needing to have muslin bags handy.
Of course it can, its the same thing as using a free floating muslin bag. I once brewed at a "Brew on Premise" place and they used larger stainless steel sleeves to dunk in and out of the heating wort. As long as you get good flow in and around the grain, then it should work fine.